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Joy at the Job Centre

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Joy at the Job Centre was a series of experimental events, delivered over the course of a half-term week, designed to support DWP customers who were experiencing difficult home situations and/or may not have much experience in engaging with cultural activities, which may cause anxiety around participating. Both adults and children may also have disabilities or additional needs. 

Customers were invited to come and have fun with the children they care for in a safe and supportive environment. The events changed each day but included a variety of artists and creative organisations delivering workshops, events, productions and opportunities, as well as community support organisations delivering information and support. 

DanceEast, Rock Paper Scissors, Ipswich Museums, Suffolk Family Carers, New Wolsey Theatre, Suffolk Libraries, Britten Pears, EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute, Art Eat, and Kimmy’s Zoo all partnered to deliver five days of arts, crafts, play, animals (alive and dead!), games, and den-building. 

DWP customers signed up to take part for a morning or afternoon. Most people interviewed attended for two days, but two also attended for one day and one for four days. 

Joy at the Jobcentre in February 2022 consisted of five days of events, with each day including up to six activities such as: 

  • Museum object handling
  • Live animal handling and information
  • Arts and crafts where participants could take home high quality items, including a bag to put everything in
  • A theatre performance
  • Dance workshop
  • Music workshop
  • Soft play for under 5s
  • Self-directed play area – such as tents, puzzles, musical instruments, Lego
  • Books for children and adults from the library, including books relating to mental health and bereavement
  • A cervical screening nurse with information about cervical screening, key ring with additional information and opportunities to talk to a nurse about gynaecological health
  • STEM activity
  • Suffolk Family Carers
  • Refreshments for DWP customers – ideally with limited sugar and salt and no caffeine! 
  • Refreshments for cultural organisations and DWP staff

Over 200 people visited, with most people staying between two and four hours. There were repeat visits with some people visiting every day.   

The Job Centre’s team were overwhelmed with positive comments and personal good news stories from families who came along.  Parents have shared how much of a difference they have seen in their children throughout the half-term week. Children who struggled to engage or whose confidence around others was low have surprised their parents by freely playing with other children and adults.  

“We’re proud to have been able to host such an event and demonstrate the job centre’s holistic and collaborative approach to supporting our community; we look forward to hosting many more creative families and community events in the future.” – Philip Carter-Goodyear, Ipswich Job Centre Plus. 

If you are a cultural professional/artist who would like to deliver a similar activity, you can find guidelines for hosting your own Joy at the Job Centre event by clicking here.

Arts make life better

Norfolk & Norwich Festival brings tens of thousands of people together in celebration – it has been doing this for 250 years. Through our May Festival and our year-round arts education work, focusing on children and young people, we lead and support celebration, creativity and curiosity in communities across Norfolk and the region.

This year we begin an exciting new initiative, Festival Connect & Create that will bring creative opportunities to those schools and communities with least provision. Creativity transforms people’s lives. It builds cohesive communities, develops vital skills and supports health and wellbeing. We want more people to have access to creative opportunities.

Please consider donating to support and develop this work. With your help we can increase access to the life changing power of the arts.

Registered Charity No. 116442

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